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Industry & community rally behind Airbnb reforms in WA

The Short-Term Rental Accommodation Bill 2024 marks a significant step towards ensuring greater accountability & sustainability in the burgeoning Airbnb market

In a move hailed by both industry stakeholders and local communities, Tourism Council WA has thrown its weight behind the introduction of legislation aimed at reforming the short-term rental accommodation sector.

Yesterday the Cook Government introduced The Short-Term Rental Accommodation Bill 2024 into state parliament that will provide stronger regulation of Short-Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) in Western Australia. This marks a significant step towards ensuring greater accountability and sustainability in the burgeoning Airbnb market.

Read the summer print edition of AccomNews HERE

This legislation will introduce important changes that will shape the future of the industry in WA.

Reacting to the news, Short Term Accommodation Association Australia (STAAA) advised: “As the legislative process unfolds, it’s crucial for all STRA operators to ask themselves: Are you prepared for the implementation of the new legislation?”

Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said the reforms would give certainty for tourism investment, particularly in regional tourism accommodation.

A recent Tourism Council WA online survey of 800 Western Australians showed strong community support for the reforms. Sixty-nine percent of respondents supported the state government’s plan to require all short-term rental accommodation to be registered and, in some cases, subject to planning approval by local government. Twenty-three percent were neutral and only nine percent disagreed.

“It is important that regional local governments have the ability to require development approval because Airbnb unchecked can lead to over tourism in an area,” Mr Hall said.

“What we want to see is proper private investment in new sustainable tourism accommodation for visitors, rather than visitors pushing out residents through Airbnb.
“Together with the state government’s announcement of a cabinet tourism investment committee, the reforms will trigger new investment in regional tourism.”
Central to the reform agenda is the promotion of sustainable tourism infrastructure, with an emphasis on new developments such as resorts, eco retreats, serviced apartments, and regional accommodations equipped with staff housing.
Mr Hall said: “When local authorities block tourism development, we see residents lose housing through Airbnb.”
He also emphasised the need for collaboration between industry stakeholders and the government to ensure that the reforms do not inadvertently stifle investment or compromise safety standards.
Addressing potential loopholes in the legislation, Mr Hall underscored the importance of enforcing building codes and accessibility standards, particularly in the context of converting residential properties into commercial short-stay accommodations. 
He said:  “We want to work closely with the state government to ensure there are no unintended consequences from the drafting of the legislation and that we do not create a submarket for tourism investment in buildings of low standards of accessibility and safety.”

As the debate over Airbnb regulation continues to evolve, the industry and community are united in their support for reforms that prioritise sustainable tourism development and safeguard the interests of all stakeholders.

With the proposed legislation now under parliamentary scrutiny, stakeholders are optimistic about the positive impact it will have on Western Australia’s tourism landscape.

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